Study Finds Blood Pressure Medication Potentially Slows Aging Process and Prolongs Life in Animals

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A common hypertension drug, rilmenidine, might slow aging, according to a recent study that showed the drug can extend the lifespan of worms. If the effects translate to humans, it could lead to new ways to improve longevity and health in later years.

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Past research suggested rilmenidine could mimic the effects of caloric restriction at a cellular level. Caloric restriction, which involves reducing calorie intake without compromising nutrition, has been associated with longer lifespans in several animal models. However, its impact on humans remains uncertain, with some experts cautioning against the potential risks.

In the study published in January, scientists treated Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) worms, a common laboratory model, with rilmenidine. Both young and old worms experienced increased lifespans and improved health markers. The findings suggest that rilmenidine might produce some of the same benefits as caloric restriction without the need for drastic calorie cuts.

“For the first time, we have been able to show in animals that rilmenidine can increase lifespan,” said molecular biogerontologist João Pedro Magalhães, from the University of Birmingham in the UK. “We are now keen to explore if rilmenidine may have other clinical applications.”

The team also found that a receptor called nish-1 was key to rilmenidine’s effectiveness in extending lifespan. If nish-1 was deleted from the worms, the drug had no effect on longevity. This indicates that targeting this receptor could be a promising approach to slowing down aging.

To build on this research, the scientists looked at how rilmenidine affected the kidney and liver tissues of mice. They found similar effects to those seen with caloric restriction, suggesting that the drug might impact some of the same pathways associated with aging and longevity.

Caloric restriction is known to be difficult to maintain and comes with various side effects, including dizziness, hair thinning, and brittle bones. Rilmenidine, on the other hand, is widely prescribed for high blood pressure, with rare side effects like palpitations, insomnia, and drowsiness.

With these promising results, researchers are eager to explore rilmenidine’s potential as an anti-aging drug for humans. While the findings are exciting, there’s still much to learn about how this hypertension drug might impact the human body in the long term.

“With a global aging population, the benefits of delaying aging, even if slightly, are immense,” Magalhães said.

The research was published in the journal Aging Cell.

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